Dallas-based Omni Hotels & Resorts is renown for providing guests with luxury experiences. Devin Burns, the chain’s vice president of rooms and food & beverage, has made a name for himself by maintaining the brand’s high standards while constantly innovating.
Burns, who joined the company in 2012 as director of food & beverage for the Omni Dallas Hotel, won the BevX this year for his impact on a multitude of projects. Theses include helping implement the opening of new Omni hotels at the Battery in Atlanta; Viking Lakes in Eagan, MN; Oklahoma City; and Boston.
What’s more, Burns has played a key part in the new Omni brand-wide uniform program, the music styling program, a coffee brand rollout and the guest text program, to name just a few initiatives.
“As vice president of rooms and food & beverage, my team and I are the caretakers of our brand’s programming, including everything from guest arrival to guest departure,” Burns says. “Our mission is to create a hotel experience that includes warm and genuine hospitality, comfortable and stylish accommodations, best-in-class food and drink, and anticipation and fulfillment of our guests’ wants and needs.”
Burns explains that he and his team constantly evaluate and elevate the hotel’s operation to keep things interesting, fun and entertaining for guests. During the pandemic, they introduced programming to add value and enjoyment, including the private-label Stance coffee, ever-changing cocktail menus, local and health-forward food offerings and new touchless menu order and pay platforms.
“One of my roles during an opening is to keep my team focused on the ‘controllables,’ which are the critical checklist items that need to be completed before guests can walk through the door,” Burns says. These include operational supplies and equipment, well-trained associates, thoughtful and interesting menus, curated music playlists, point-of-sale technology and so on.
“Conversely, there are countless obstacles to an opening that you can’t control that quite frankly can derail the team if you don’t constantly overcome and refocus. Pivoting, flexing and staying nimble along the way are key,” Burns says.
The Covid pandemic has added a plethora of challenges to the hospitality business. For Burns, the biggest problem and “hangover” from Covid is the staffing shortage facing the entire industry, as thousands of colleagues left the business and have yet to return.
“As our hotels and restaurants closed, some of our workforce lost faith in our industry as a smart and sustainable career choice. We are now working tirelessly to recruit and retain new talent. And we know that yesterday’s strategies will no longer work,” Burns says.
“We have to think and act outside of the box and outside of our comfort zone to recruit associates who will help us build back even better!”
So what does Burns like most about his long-standing career in the industry? “I enjoy working with my team to create amazing experiences with our hospitality, food, drink, music, surprise and delights,” Burns says. “It’s all about the experience.”